Recent times have seen a surge in people sticking to diet-fads as and when they make an appearance in the market. Everyone wants to lose weight and stay fit and in shape. Frequent visits to the gym and sports centers have become a part and parcel of our existence and anything less than a home-workout seems unacceptable. However, too much or too little of anything is not always good for the body. Be it exercising or sticking to a particular diet-regime, everything should be done in moderation so as to reduce or avoid the negative impacts it may have on our bodies. Too much protein or too much fat for the sake of weight-reduction is the gripping trend people are following blindly off-late but the choice may come with a heavy price in the later stages of life if not practiced with caution. Through this article let us take a look at how consuming too much protein may adversely affect one’s health and why protein-intake should be controlled.
Protein And Its Importance In The Human Body
Protein is an essential macronutrient and so it automatically becomes an important part of a healthy, balanced diet. When a nutrient falls in the category of macronutrients it simply means that our body needs the same in a larger quantity as compared to other essential nutrients. It is a known fact that a person’s overall weight comprises of 15% protein. So maintaining the same becomes an obligation in order to stay healthy and fit. Protein is an important component that aids in metabolism, provides energy as well as works towards building and repairing organs, bones and muscles. It is required to make hormones and enzymes. It also works towards strengthening the immune system. The chemical composition of protein includes amino acids also termed as the building blocks of proteins. It consists of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and sulfur.
Best Sources of Protein
Protein intake is essential for our body to remain healthy and strong. Various options are available to include protein in one’s diet. However, it is necessary to go for healthy protein-options than those that may adversely affect the body when consumed in large amounts. Protein found in processed food, dairy products and meat with high-fat content is best when avoided. Let us take a look at some of the healthy sources of protein:
- Fish like tuna, salmon
- Legumes like beans, lentils, peas
- Nuts like pecans, peanuts, cashews, walnuts, etc
- Eggs from organic poultry.
- Organic meat
- Whole grains
- Organic dairy
- Low-fat dairy including yogurt, milk, cheese, etc
Interestingly one may argue that protein supplements are sufficient to suffice one’s protein-needs in the diet. However, though they do supply protein to the body it should never be considered as the sole source of protein and should be taken, in moderation, alongside other healthy protein options.
How Much Protein Can Be Consumed Per Day?
Too much of anything can do us more harm than good. The same is the case with protein intake. What one needs to bear in mind while consuming protein is that when taken in moderation it will surely work towards building and repairing the body. Factors that need to be taken into consideration for the same are gender, age and health primarily followed by other factors. The general allowance of protein intake for a person, per day, is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of a normal, healthy person’s weight which sums up to about 45-55 gms per day. A slight increase is permissible. Athletes and those resorting to working out using heavyweights are allowed up to 3.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, depending on the level of their daily activity. The ketogenic diet as well as plant-based diets that seems to have gripped the society in recent times can have high-protein content in them and over the long run may have adverse effects on one’s health. What one must remember is that a diet that is high in protein is directly proportional to the intake of calories, exceeding which can lead to several risk factors which if left neglected can have dire effects on one’s health. So before one resorts to a diet high in protein it is best advised to consult a doctor or nutritionist who will be able to guide the person as to how much of what should be consumed so as to reduce the risks associated with an excess of protein in one’s diet.
Other Benefits of Protein
Mentioned below are some ways in which protein is beneficial to our healthy existence:
1. Muscle Building
Protein supplement enhances muscle mass as well as strength and is also known to reduce muscle fatigue. Those resorting to resistance training would highly benefit from this factor and will be able to perform better. Also, it will be beneficial for everyone in the long run.
2. Weight Management
Protein-diet is a key factor that helps in weight reduction. It promotes dietary thermogenesis or in other words, it increases the energy level in the body after food intake so the person feels better energized and hence be able to work out better. Protein boosts satiety or the feeling of remaining full for longer time periods. It renders the muscles feeling metabolically active leading them to burn more calories daily.
Harmful Effects of A High Protein Diet
Taking too much protein can have adverse effects on one’s health as mentioned below:
High protein diets are usually low in fibre as they restrict the intake of carbohydrates and so it can lead to constipation. Increasing the intake of water and keeping a check on one’s bowel movement can help alter this.
- Weight gain
High protein intake is usually stored in the body as fat when it is consumed in excess.
And, the weight loss associated by a high-protein diet is generally temporary. So over time, the stored fat contributes to weight gain especially if the calorie intake is increased to suffice protein consumption.
The irony with a high-protein diet is that even when one feels less thirsty one ends up getting dehydrated. This is because the body gets rid of excess nitrogen in the body with water and other fluids and is more harmful in the case of an active individual.
- Bad Breath
Restricting carbohydrate intake associated with a high-protein diet can lead to an unpleasant fruity order coming from the mouth and is often related to the body going into ketosis.
Whilst consuming a high-protein diet consisting of more of processed dairy food which is deficient in fiber, this can lead to diarrhea. To avoid this, drink water aplenty and consume healthy protein.
- Kidney Damage
Those with underlying kidney problems may find a high-protein diet doing them more harm than good. This is because a weak kidney has to put more effort to get rid of the excess nitrogen and unwanted byproducts of a protein diet.
- Cancer Risk
Protein diet that promotes the excessive intake of red and processed meat may cause colorectal, prostate and breast cancer and other health issues and this could be because of the existence of certain carcinogenic compounds found in red meat.
- Loss of Calcium
Increased intake of protein can sometimes lead to a loss of calcium in the body and this may lead to health conditions like osteoporosis.
- Heart Disease
Excessive consumption of red-meat rich in saturated fat and cholesterol, to suffice protein intake can have an adverse effect on one’s heart and result in various heart ailments.
Consuming a balanced diet is of utmost importance to stay healthy and actively functional in the long run. Inculcating macronutrients like protein should be given a higher priority but one must also not overlook the source of this essential nutrient. It is best advised to always resort to healthy, natural options so that one’s health does not dwindle as they age. Be it proteins, carbohydrates or fats, everything should be consumed in adequately required quantities only. Along with a healthy food intake one must also inculcate the habit of routine exercising in one’s daily activities. And lastly, as a general rule of thumb, before resorting to any diet-plan one must not forget to consult a dietician or nutritionist to ensure the said diet-plan is suitable for them. Bearing all these points in mind one is good to resort to a protein diet provided it is consumed in moderation.